COVID-19 Vaccination in Pakistan

COVID-19: Pakistan province to block mobile phones of unvaccinated people

*The Sindh province in Pakistan directs that besides blocking their mobile lines, any civil servants who refuse to be vaccinated against the Coronavirus will not be paid wages from July 2021

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As a penalty in the latest move against any Civil Servants who refuse to be vaccinated in the region, a Pakistan province has said it will block the mobile phones of people refusing to get Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine jabs.

The authority’s directive Friday, June 11, 2021, came after Sindh province had said the staff who refuse to be vaccinated would not be paid from July this year, agency report stated.

It was learnt a third wave of infections has begun to stabilise in Pakistan after weeks of tough restrictions, and in Punjab, the country’s most populous province which includes the megacity of Lahore, demand for jabs has slowed recently.

Hammad Raza, Spokesman for the Punjab Primary Health Department, said:

“At first this was only a proposal, but people have been very hesitant in getting vaccinated so the decision was made.”

Raza explained the state telecoms agency would decide how to implement the measure in this regard.

Pakistan’s nationwide vaccination rollout has ramped up in recent weeks with more than 200,000 doses administered most days, but it adds up to only a fraction of the 220 million population, according to report.

Almost 10.5 million doses have been administered, with China supplying most of the vaccines.

However, concerns about the side effects of the jabs, coupled with misinformation that it causes infertility or death within two years, have sparked vaccine hesitancy in the country.

Salman Haseeb, Head of Pakistan’s Young Doctor’s Association, told AFP that “Pakistan’s education level is low. People are also spreading rumours and misinformation about the vaccines.

“So information campaigns by the government won’t work for the short-term. They will have to make use of the law to ensure everyone gets vaccinated.”

Report also indicates the measures were met with concern by some Pakistanis in Lahore.

Saima Bibi, a domestic worker in Lahore, said: “It will be hard for me if I can’t use my phone, but I am very scared about the vaccine.

“You can’t force someone to get vaccinated,” said Farwa Hussain, a teacher in Rawalpindi, who has already received a shot.

Hussain stated: “It makes me a little suspicious.”

Under new incentives in the province, those who do get vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed access to cinemas, celebration halls, and shrines, while restrictions will be lifted on businesses in districts with more than 20 percent of the population protected.

Mobile vaccine centres will also be set up outside shrines to reach people in rural areas.

Pakistan has recorded more than 940,000 infections and 21,500 deaths, but with limited testing and a ramshackle healthcare sector, many fear the true extent of the disease is much worse.

National data also showed that around 300,000 recipients of the first dose of the Covid-19 Vaccine have not returned for a second dose, report noted.

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